Hopes that Joe Biden’s presidency would soften the US’s approach to Huawei have been further dashed by reports that the Commerce Department has issued additional restrictions on licenses on doing business with the company.
Huawei been on the US ‘non-entity’ list since 2019, with this status preventing US companies from selling products to the Chinese mobile giant without permission.
Many companies had successfully applied for these licences, but those issued in the final days of the Trump administration were considerably more restrictive.
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Far from easing these restrictions, Reuters says all licences have now been amended to include the additional conditions. Specifically, licences now state that any products sold could not be used with any 5G device – even if the component was not designed to facilitate 5G connectivity.
Additionally, items cannot be used for certain applications – such as data centres, cloud or space applications – and are subject to additional technical requirements.
The changes mean American firms are now more restricted in their business activities, but others believe the consistent approach means all suppliers compete on a level playing field.
Huawei has always denied any allegations that it is a national security risk and has said the sanctions threaten the future of its smartphone business.
The measures have certainly ended any ambitions of becoming the world leading smartphone manufacturer. It is refocusing on the high-end segment of the market and has sold its Honor subsidiary – in part so it can escape the impact of US sanctions.
Trump’s approach to Huawei as inconsistent and unpredictable, with China suggesting the US stance on Huawei and other affected companies is political. Biden’s presidential election victory had increased hopes of a reprieve but comments from his nominee for Commerce secretary earlier this year suggested there would be no change in policy.
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